Sunday, February 07, 2010

The diminishing value of friend recommendations online

I came across the following article (by Michael Bush) on Advertising Age:
In Age of Friending, Consumers Trust Their Friends Less

Edelman Study Shows That Only 25% of People Find Peers Credible, Flying in Face of Social-Media Wisdom
Here's my response, mostly in agreement:

With an overabundance of people who believe (and are being led to believe by social media marketers) that their personal opinions matter greatly to everyone around them, it's no surprise that the signal-to-noise ratio surrounding personal recommendations has gotten lower. Not only do we have more friends than ever (because of social networking sites), a disproportionate number of them seem to think they are (or deserve to be) prominent influencers and tastemakers.

In response, some people appear to be relying more on aggregrate recommendations, leveraging the so-called "wisdom of the crowd" to determine what they're likely to enjoy, whether it's movies (via, restaurants (via, or books (via Such an approach, widely-adopted, has its own problematic consequences (to be discussed some other time).

An alternative approach is to rely on select individuals for one's recommendations, people whose opinions you really value, even if you don't necessarily agree with all of them. For me, I rely on the person who knows me best--my wife Carol, and even she gets me wrong from time to time, or isn't necessarily interested in evaluating all the things that pique my curiosity. For what it's worth, I still trust recommendations offered by my friends--like around 10 of them, a much smaller subset of the 400 or so friends I have on Facebook (nothing personal, folks).